tv Brookings Forum Examines Record of the 115th Congress CSPAN August 6, 2017 4:26pm-6:00pm EDT
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must the communicators, monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. next reporters and scholars familiar with house and procedures discussed the legislative process for the 115th congress. from the brookings institution, this is an hour and a half. >> thank you for joining us. for those of you standing in the back, there is an overflow. thank you very much, i am sarah bender, the senior fellow in studies, i have the pleasure of moderating today. i will introduce our speakers,
just a bit about the book. then we will get it going. to my left is molly reynolds. a fellow here in government studies. the author to except as to the role. pointl be the launching for us in politics and applications for policy and him particularly health and tax today. vox.h cliff, from bo just a very, very brief comment
to get us going here. i have to say that if you have not seen molly's will get. you should. it strikes me as the very best of what bookings has to offer. which is twofold. in politicalrooted science, i know that is why you are all here. it takes both theory, data, consequences and significance seriously and brings them all together and the second dimension here, it doesn't end the service of explaining contemporary politics in particular. as you have seen, these past six or seven months. the question of reconciliation is an exception to the rule. it is a majority procedure in a senate which is majoritarian. i would say that elsewhere in the book, is more than reconciliation. we look at many ways in which
the senate has found ways to limit the filibuster. i would say that molly has her eye on something that is hiding in plain sight. isof the last six months, it -- with that, i will start as. molly, you go first. a new book about procedures that limit debate in the senate. perhaps you can say just a little bit about how it helps us to understand what has been happening in the senate this year? molly: thank you sarah, thank you all for coming. fromnk the biggest lesson the book is that i have impeccable timing. when i startedat this project five years ago, i had no idea that it would come this. the midst of
i promise to tell all of you what my next book is about so that you know that that is what you should be paying attention to. in all seriousness, one of the big argument i make in the book is that it empowers a simple majority on the floor of the senate. whichever party holds the majority -- we should expect them to use the process in a way that will help them with the majority in the future. in the book, i talk a lot about a new political interest of the individual senators and their parties. it's usually the ones that will be up for reelection in two years. they make decisions about how to use the process, whether it will help them keep a hold of the chamber. obviously, this will change from year to year.
the same time, keeping the majority is not just about thinking about what is in the individual interests of your members, it is about the party's collective interest and the collective promises that made to the voters. we might think that under unified party control, the house, the senate the presidency, delivering on this collective, says but the particularly important. where look at washington they see why can't this party do anything. they create situations where the individual members of the majority party are cross pressured. what is best for the party's collective goals and what is best in their interest is not the same. what better or for worse, the public decided that being able
to say they repealed obamacare a some way, shape or form is really important shared political goal they have. at the end of the day, writing a health care bill that could accomplish that the torah cobol, also, 50 members of the senate thought it was in the individual interest proved a really difficult to do. well inwe saw this very the saga of dean heller. he did a very dramatic press conference where he said he could not support what this bill does to medicaid. it is a real example of someone with a bill that is really bad.
also, he was under pressure to help his party achieve this goal. this is about the role of committees in the reconciliation process. i think that has gotten less attention. i spent a little bit of time on it. if you are here with us today, you probably know that the red the reconciliation process starts is reconciliation instructions in the budget restoration. this helps congressional committees to work on proposals that would achieve some amount of change. what we saw in the book is that congress is deciding whether it instructions, it is about what kind of
reconciliation proposal might a committee produce. though they produce a kind of proposal that will make a majority better off? this year, one of the things that we saw is that they tried to circumvent a process. they have this working group, i believe it the end -- began 13 members and floated in and out. they did not use the committees in a formal way. one of the reasons this might be is that it features three of the most problematic members. about how the majority party is going to anticipate what they're committees might do when they're included in the process, the fact that mcconnell may have thought that they were unable to
produce a bill is not exactly what is going to help him. i think that is another thing that some of the work in the book that help us understand about the current process. isthe last thing i will say that reconciliation is not a magic bullet. it can certainly help majority parties do things they want to do. at the end of the day, you can present challenges of its own. did raise apple is the bird will. is limited some of the scope of deals they could be trying to make.
>> norm, you have been watching congress for a while. >> old is the words you looking for. -- where she is looking for. that for thosey of us who have known molly since she was a very young person here i want to add how lucky brookings is to have her back. book,s not just a superb if you read all of her observations on the website and other places, she has fulfilled all of the promises that she saw as an intern here. second, one of the things i do on the side is i am a consultant for beat, the hbo series.
it has been a very challenging year. we have a challenging year ahead. it toke reality and push a point of absurdity. when you start with absurdity, it really does become a more -- on the question that sarah asked, we all know about the old saw that you should watch law or sausages being made and i used to say that when tom and i were wiped -- writing the broken branch, i had a university of iowa friend who did a tour of the meatpacking plant and said that congress is much worse. that has only gotten worse. one observation about dean heller. there are two words to add to this, steve when. we cannot ignore the impact of big money.
this bill may have started out and was discussed in terms of health care. underlying it was that this was an attempt to get the big -- get the big tax cut. was coming pressure from people who were far more concerned about getting the tax cut, even though underlying this as well was the promise made through those 60 plus votes to repeal and replace the pressure from the president. this is to fulfill some sort pledge on health policy without much of a concern on policy. having said all of that, we have all watched and those of us who have been run for any length of time, the process that has been distorted or tilted or changed in different ways to confront the realities of increasing difficulty or passing policy,
one of the things we have seen over the last 20 or 30 years is fewer bills past but those being longer. temptationways the to pile onto somebody that you nobody -- something that you know is a must pass. it is the one trend that may get tourist destination. that means you are getting polyglot legislation. that is venture in the past. we have also seen averages in the policy process and going back when tom and i wrote the broken branch in 2006, we decried the decline of the regular order which has never process.ean we try to use the process of committees and subcommittees and expertise moving forward.
some kind of open amendment process. that is been deteriorating for some time. outrageous, we have had lots of things that were concocted largely in secret and not in an open way. i could go back to the three-hour middle of the night ote on medicare prescription drug plans that included tom being chastised. that is all the others committee ever does. that is all they ever do.
being chastised for trying to shake down and abroad a member on the floor to get that final vote. we could get to the same bill in the same -- in the senate where two elected members of commerce committee in the senate, including the democratic leader tom -- but were shut out of the conference. those the lori schindler going on. we could turn to the thousand 11 budget compromise to try and get disaster where patty murray and paul ryan did much of the negotiation themselves behind closed doors. if you will at most of those processes, they were bipartisan and that included the conference committee were john breaux decided that even though daschle and another one of his colleagues would be left out, he would go to negotiate. the famousn he made
comment that he cannot be bought, he would be rented. what patty murray and paul ryan did as the chairs of the respected by the committees was they regularly reported back to their colleagues a process that was thoroughly bipartisan. not, it was one as harry and molly both said that she could bypass the committee entirely. it started with a group of 13 old white men excluding all hadrs, it actually may have people coming out. the bill was put together by mcconnell and his staff, not using the expertise. mcconnell famously barred the march of dimes among other stockholders and health care process.
i've got seen anything quite like this. some this will turn into semblance of a regular order, something that will be a little better. majority intent -- oing everything him a senate that is now determined to look at a different direction, you have a house of representatives that has no desire or willingness to move in that direction. i think the twists and turns and -- one that is designed to build broad leadership consensus is gone for a significant. of time. for the whole nature of the in aerative process
representative democracy, that is tragic for all of us. >> they are thoroughly consulted by the analogy of watching sausage being made. how do you think republicans decisions to use reconciliation --pursue repeal and police hasace a vehicle care act played out? >> congratulations molly on the fantastic book. i will echo on your timing. it could have been a little bit challenging in getting us all in one room.
you chose a slow week in washington, that will probably change by the end of today. i want to comment on what we discussed so far and get into -- roles of our the democrats worked with the republicans on a bipartisan process that lasted for a few months. it was a very different process we went through this year compared to 2009, 2010. ago, i was with a few of our interns. basically after obama came into office.
personally, i remember watching so much c-span, i was based in new york at the time. my routine during the portal care act debate was get into my cubicle, get out my headphones and spent a full day watching c-span. span. new yorkually based in at the time and my routine during the affordable care act ebate was get into my cubicle meetings atch these the blair house with republicans democrats. it was a very -- you know, at times, i was, like, quit it with hearings, it was so much to cover but it was a process where you saw how they were getting to decisions. saw the debate, the pushback, you saw how this bill together. covering this -- this healthcare effort is a different
experience. two hearings in the process this far.so two on the house. zero on the senate. debate in the past week but no committee process or hearings. perspective, it is quite difficult to cover a bill being drafted in secret. you know. you do the best you can to find out information about it, talk hill, butources on the at the end of the day, it's hard to cover a committee meeting that didn't happen. and i think this is also true as orm mentioned the role of advocates. i was covering families trying to lobby their senators and they to lobbyvery difficult against a bill that they had never seen because you can go to and say we oppose ke can't and they say comment on it. it's hard for an advocacy group o work in a world where they don't have access and can't even comment on what's being discussed. felt like a very different
perspective. my much less information, much more secretive. time that weunt of get with these bills has made it very difficult to understand actually in them. there was one moment that i with, the lved american healthcare act, the ouse version of obamacare repeal and replace where this was the second iteration. arthur ded on the mc amendments in a very smart legal observer called and said there's exemption to this law from congress if you cross reference it and look it turns out he was right. there. i wrote a story about this and the next morning, there was a debate about whether it actually existed and i was watching mark chairs the freedom caucus saying this thing i reported on asn't there and others were saying it was there. but no one has had much time with this bill. read ave not had time to and analyze it and i think that
is really the challenge of quickly and o secretively. another example would be the limits which ime the affordable care act outlawed. among as a debate analysts that a few folks at were active in about whether it brought back lifetime limits. here are real world consequences to legislating. reconciliation, it really did shape the healthcare process very significantly in could f what republicans and could not do. one of the big goals that conservatives had going into effort was to deregulate
one thing that i've learned is the senate republicans can overrule and say we disagree going a and we're different direction. senator mike lee from utah was a key advocate of this approach let's use that power and overrule the parliamentarian. andfact they didn't do that broke all these other rules about committees and did so many kept to t of order but raised nciliation rules the question for me about how this bill to ed pass.
that's the reason we can't do this. optioning to overrule them and i think it's telling they did not take that how much they've been willing to break from debate raditions in the that we've seen. sausage. ist on the republican agenda to move on to taxes. perhaps you could talk a little see as major you procedural issues or watch tional hurdles to for. >> yeah. me.l, thanks for having i want to start by talking a bit which i read book mostly and what i really liked creates, s that it intellectual framework around what sarah and i have
experienced and norm has xperienced even longer in watching how the senate works. sets up even in the title these things as exceptions to the rule. and it's -- it creates the is the that the senate jarty body but has over ized the limitations the years of that. categorizes reasons why the senate has carved out simple majority thresholds for things and when the partisan pressures that and when they're not there. i think that leads directly to finished with which is the -- one of the maybe republicans decided they didn't really want bill.ct this the other thing is they know the
power of having the super threshold still exist for the inevitable time when they're not in charge which will be, you know, 2019, 2021, at some point down the road. o it's very much a defensive ploy against what the other side in the future. and i think even the bird rule is a great example in the book where molly talks about why it was created. there was a reconciliation bill 80s that kind of went too far in the view of the senate. they passed it. of things in there that were not purely fiscal and they all looked at and said we want this to be an exception to the rule and no tea the rule so they rule to hem ird themselves in. all, you know, divine the understandings of what the
worksule means and how it and we'll spend a bunch of time doing that in tax reform. looking ahead to tax reform, it heller aga of dean volume 2. which is what i took from molly's book. about how people to watch when you go from the simple procedures to the majority procedures, the people median member e of the chamber, all right, could make a case -- the median member of the committee. ofl, who's the median member the finance committee? we'll see but i make a strong ase that it's heller and the senators under the most immediate electoral pressure. senator heller. so congratulations. [laughter] may shift., that he obviously didn't end up being senator, the pivotal
in fact it was senator no in who in fact had electoral pressure to we'll see how this shakes out. for the equivalent of the speech senator heller gave reform.thcare on tax one of the things he cares about most, small things like geothermal energy which is nevada.nt in the gambling industry? things outside of the tax code? that's what i'll will booking for and are there other senators who kind of raised their hands be the pivotal senator and sort of hold their that they r things might want. the finance committee is 14-12 commitment this time to move if not through regular order at least through committee gives every single one of those republicans the ability to try create some leverage.
and going back to what molly before, we'll see the same cross pressure politically. know, you've got too.nd of what norm said -- he needs a lot of money to run an expensive race to evada and that's going cause him to be more aligned with the senate majority leader senate leadership than you might think from just the state wants, what the electoral pressures are in the state. views might onal
be. >> i have a couple more open its and then we'll up. i thought, norm, maybe -- i can but i'm goingswer to ask it. we've talked about the ways in itself has iliation ham strung republicans on healthcare. different republican president or white house or hhs a different could scenario, could we have seen success on aca repeal where we it this time? >> i got to be a little a ptical although i think different president and a different senate majority leader ould have approached this in a very different way and of course
as sarah cliff has written i extraordinarily -- the averredable care act is not broken. be repaired ould relatively easily and there's republicansower for with a president and a congressional majority but a one to be able to tilt it more in a direction that they would like. know, easing up on some regulations, adding in their reform.ice maybe making it more market friendly. some of the things that we see that are being discussed by that oblem solvers caucus in the past has not solved any problems. to be viewed ely with great favor by speaker ryan. but the frustrating thing for anybody who follows health how easy it is would be to actually put this
back on a reasonable path. but we're in a tribal a ironment and we have republican party as jeff flake who is one of the most know and ve people i i've known him pretty well since he was in the house, anybody who moderate, he's not. he's a very conservative guy. guy who values a deliberative process, ompromise, and the institutions. would make it pretty clear that you don't have a republican a large group of moderates or even a small group of moderates and then a larger conservatives. the people who now are being over moderates over and again by reporters and you can't get them to stop despite the of doing so would have 25 years ago been at the right end of their party. conservatives and radicals. they you decide that and all have seen the fate of
boehner that you're going to reach more broadly to going center, you're not to be speaker for very long and ou can make that work as a majority leader in the senate but you're not going to find the right cooperation to pull it all in the house and i doubt very much if you had, say, a president jeb bush who would look at this perhaps in a different way that you would to find that kind of common ground and now i do we're seeing as lamar alexander is moving create some g to semblance of regular order in the senate and they might be able to come up with the kinds us would that all of see as a reasonable balance. able tolays going to be get the one year just to keep his going to stabilize insurance markets but whatever they're able to come up with, i just don't see it working in the way the house is now
constituted. >> this is for sarah and richard. questionou'll like the but we'll see. both of yourressed reporting that you're keeping an constraintstutional having been in that gton long enough is this appreciation for procedure is relatively new. cq to have to scour really find it. curious about whether the way you -- whether you have to convince editors important, how you go about what's your own perspective on the importance or pay uch one should attention to this or is this omething readers don't really want to know about? are have found readers quite interested in senate policy. this is not something i have to
on.ince my editors it's more they say we need to explain. it's k certainly because so key to the process and i think because also the news news where we focus a lot on explanation and to theg a bigger picture news that it's something that in, readers are interested editors are interested in and i -- k it kind of grows out you know, i've worked with our five in chief for about or six years now. e were together at the "washington post." i think both of us agree that or a while politics was the exciting fun part and policy was almost like the vegetables that but lately eat policy has become interesting and exciting to people if they and understandit why it's going the way it is but a lot of that requires really ng a lot of
complex policy things, rocedural things, talking to experts like sarah and molly so that as journalists, we can understand it. but i think there's a desire because our readers are understanding how important to shaping politics, we have found that this.e are hungry for a good example is that we saw going viral i'm sure a lot of shot about how ccain's vote had quietly ended the entire healthcare effort because of this wrinkle in reconciliation process and it a ms like a guy who had just little bit of information and decided he was an expert and we readers asking, you know, is this true? is healthcare over. like, i want to understand this. so we wrote a long story about that. and that was not -- that was to us from at came our readers. people wanted to know if this thing was right. very, you know, my editors, our readers are quite process in a way
that as a policy nerd it is me.iting and gratifying to >> well, my first job in washington was three and a half i'm -- and that was a very instructive xperience in learning about procedure because everything is tied to procedure is the outcome. --that -- you know, spending covering -- i mean, that's where i was during aca, during tarp. watched all that happen from to vantage point of trying learn and understand those rules. so i'm not sure that i, you don't write a lot of reconciliation explainers i'm sure we'll have to do one at point this fall maybe that we can -- the great thing with the internet is that you can resurface these things and they're there all the time. because d it important knowing the procedure helps you where the sort of important
hurdles are. right. you know what -- so i keep, you know, i keep writing and every story like before they can pass a tax bill, they have to agree a budget and the budget has to say how big the tax cut nside the budget window has to be. i don't sort of frame it in terms of the bird -- i was jargon as imit the much as i can because we're writing for a big general frame it ut i try and to make sure people understand structural procedural barriers that are there because those are the things that are the policy ve making. epublicans need to decide on tax reform. how much revenue the government should collect over the next decade. that's a threshold question that need to decide that they haven't decided yet and until hey decide that, they can talk about details and rates and whatever but we're just not there. so -- and they can back -- but they have to make that decision first. i approach my job with that
procedural knowledge in mind and i always try and remember is that when you think you know everything about you don't.ion, and so -- >> that's when you call mom. >> right. no. no -- even reddit man's little dangerous ledge is but even a lot of knowledge is dangerous on reconciliation. say i see at least one super reconciliation expert in the audience. you're wondering where i get my knowledge from. molly.'s a question for we've talked a little bit and your book goes into quite modeling of the conditions under which congress as considered not just --onciliation but also other on the russian perhaps you can say a little bit
about what you see going forward. unfortunately, we did not get this time around from a political science unfortunate perspective, voter rama, perhaps you can say a little bit about if you see the prospect for change here, how it might come about. >> yeah, it's a great question, and i probably think the only people in washington other than the senators themselves not to get to watch voter rama last week might have been us. this goes to something chris said earlier, the idea that sometimes the rules are convenient for senators to blame the process for what they cannot get done on a policy perspective. sarah has been writing since the
beginning of this health care fight about the degree to which to use the reconciliation process deprived republicans of one of their most effective tols for getting themselves agree with each other, which was blaming democrats for not cooperating. once they had a route where they did not need democrats, they could not credibly say that the reason they were not getting anything done was because democrats were not willing to work with them. to the degree that the rules help them, either by facilitating policy changes or alped them by giving them scapegoat for giving them changes they do not agree on will have the rules and procedures that we do. that is generally how i think about the question of what dictates the procedures we get out of congress, but i think
about them in the context of what policy change do they allow us to do or allow us not to do. ,n the questions on voter rama specifically, some of us complain about it a lot. they complain about it in the context of the budget resolution and in the context of evenciliation bills, but while they are complaining about it, they are using it to their advantage, using it to offer things that are good for themselves individually, amendments that seek to in there's the other party, so it is a real sort of allen's they have to strike. it is a thing they complain about publicly, but at the same time, use it to their advantage. i think going forward, as we specifically other
rules under the budget act, some of which are relevant for tax reform, the thing to keep in mind is -- do the rules help them do what they want to do, or do they -- if they do not help them do what they want to do, do a source ofovide blame for what they cannot do because they do not agree on policy? >> i want to make an additional point about what happened to a deliberate process. we had a very telling moment johnson was asked why they were just kind of slapping this bill together. he said, "well, we really did not think donald trump would be president." what he was saying was we do not have to come up with an alternative because if hillary clinton becomes president, we can just vote 60 more times to repeal and replace. you go back to a confessional eric cantor did recently, one of the things that has become a
favorite ongoing twit of mine, eric cantor said eight years alternative to the" then nascent affordable care act is weeks away. havehas happened is if you tribal politics and you are in the minority, and you make a tactical decision for electoral gain, no matter what the majority proposes, you are going to oppose it, and that is what they did through the entire obama administration. your capacity to come up with policy alternatives atrophies. there's no interest or desire to do it because it is a hard thing to do and you have to do a lot of heavy lifting, and you are going to get a lot of opposition. but it has atrophied enough i'm not sure it can come back, and that is, again, a tragedy for the political process.
if you do not have even political process where you can work at all vendors and if you have condition and audience into believing that everything the other side did was so awful and evil that you cannot keep any of it, you are left with nothing. >> you think that is limited to health care? some functionct going forward on taxes, or because it is an issue that republicans at least might have in the past had some expertise on, is there hope going forward? >> i think there is something we will confront with almost every major issue going forward. it may not work for some of the things that are a little bit below the radar. someo have at least members developing and level of expertise, and there are some areas where they are finding, if they are not ones that will be picked up by laura ingraham or ,art levin, or sean hannity
that you can actually get them through in a bipartisan way, but on big issues, i think it becomes increasingly difficult, and it also means that you are now driven more by because you have excited the tribal media and a base -- you are driven more by their demands then you are by working out nuances of policy, and that is true with tax policy as well. when you look at some of the things that have been on their wish list, the simplistic element of just wiping out the estate tax, wiping out some of these areas of taxation, basically following in this case a wish list of their billionaire backers, that brings us back to the money issue. even the kind of sausage making we have seen with tax bills and tax reform in the past as in 1986, which still had some desire to try to make it work so it would actually improve the economy goes away. it becomes more mindless, and that's what i see, and i see it with infrastructure as well.
that,king up from richard, maybe you could sketch for us some potential pathways we might or might not see on tax reform and tax cuts. >> am struggling to reconcile significant optimism that you hear from the white house. they sort of have the principles figured out and they are just going to march right ahead, and it will be done by mid-november, reconciling that optimism with everything else that i know, you get further into the details, it gets harder. there's trade-offs between different income groups. trade-offs between different kinds of companies, trade-offs deficits now and deficits in spending cuts later. all of those things they have
just scratched a little bit, but the party has not really grappled with it. we have seen this come up you talk tohere ways and means republicans, they have spent -- especially ones who have been on the committee a long time, they have spent five years working on the proposal. working off the house blueprint that came out in 2016. they spent a lot of time on it and are familiar with the trade-off. they are the ones who when they hear simplistic sounding things bang their head on the desk because they know what it takes to make the numbers work, and the sort of big picture principles just are not enough. i just think they have a lot of figuring out where they want to the general one of cut .ax rates and promote growth it is going to have to be more complicated than that, and they have not engaged in the internal
trade-off yet. that's not to say they will not and cannot do it. what norm said, i try to think about with the governing majority in congress is, and since the budget control act, the governing majority has bipartisan majority of to aors and a handful couple handfuls of house republicans with house democrats. that is what it has come down to , and that is what it looked like on the fiscal cliff. that is what it looked like on the spending bill earlier this year. republicans, i guess with the exception of the 2015 repeal bill that was vetoed, has not produced a time of legislation. they have not figured out how to work within the majority they have, and taking that lack of a lot oftten
experience of working with that majority interest complicated issue like tax reform, i mean, look out. the realwill get to hard decisions after they have tried to deal with the budget and the debt limit and any i'ver of deadlines, so made the stroke for a while, i will make it again. i may well end up eating a maggot had in the rose garden in mid-november. there's a lot of desire to get something done, and they have the electoral imperative to get there, but it is hard for me to see all the steps from today to there. >> luckily, rose garden ceremonies are not just for bill signings into law. for molly. as i said at the outset, many of these exceptions to majority rule we think of as sort of
hiding in plain sight, except for reconciliation. i thought maybe you could say a little bit about some of these other ways in which congress has decided they are going to limit, maybe say a little bit about why that might not happen, why senators might hide their hand, and maybe as it relates to some of the recent examples we have seen. >> thanks. know a lot of you are suddenly super interested in reconciliation, but much of the about these classic procedures in the senate more generally, where congress has periodically said we think a particular pieces of legislation should have limitations, and that means they cannot be filibustered. in the book, i sort of sketch out to do principal reasons why congress does this. in some cases, it is to avoid blame. there's some policy change they
think is worth making, but they want to take some of their fingerprints off the actual process, so they will give the proposalcome up with a to someone else, if it's a special group of members within the chamber, so here we can think about something like the supercommittee, which definitely failed, but the plan was that they were supposed to come up with this proposal for deficit reduction, and that proposal would come back to the chambers amended,t could not be and then it could not be filibustered. it is also how we might think about the procedures we have used in the past to close military bases, where a special group of actors are charged with coming up with that proposal, and that comes back for an up or down vote. there, the situation where congress thinks it might be a
good idea to make some sort of change, but ultimately, they want to be able to avoid some of the blame for actually making the hard choices. sarahher cases, and alluded to this earlier, in the case of a couple of pieces of sanctions legislation is that sometimes congress wants to increase its ability to check what the president is doing, and one way to do that is to put -- to make some executive actions reviewable by congress, and in exchange, congress speeds up the process for how it would consider those review measures. again, this has happened on some sanctions bills. and that sort of thing. really targeted choices that congress makes in particular situations. part of why a question i often what ier people find out
wrote this book about, is this the solution to gridlock and congress, and i'm not terribly optimistic about that. one thing i demonstrate in the book is that it has been pretty careful and pretty targeted when particular situations really warrant special procedures. >> i have one more question for sarah, and then we will open it up. if it's a case where reconciliation is dead, understanding it could come back if they could get it off the corridor, if they are freed from reconciliation, do you see progress on any element of the affordable care act repair, perhaps on the insurance subsidies? should we expect to see some sort of health committee action going forward? >> yeah, that is a fantastic question, and it does seem like at the moment -- although i have learned to never say never -- there is not a clear path
forward. particularly over the next month, for example. it would be very hard to see any sort of health care legislation coming back with a house in recess, with senator mccain back in arizona receiving treatment. there's just not people here to get anything done. it seems like for the next month or so, it really -- one thing that might have gotten lost a little bit in the shuffle last week is not just that this one last skinny repeal bill went down in the senate, there are actually four different bills that were considered by the senate, either not voted on, voted against -- they rejected four different health care bills last week. there's one that is still .anging around i wrote a story about it yesterday. i do not think it is a compromise solution. i think it is more disruptive and more radical than the other bills that were considered, so i do not really see that we going or would. it's a really big medicaid cut. sen. heller: has very surprisingly to me sign on to this bill.
yesterday, we had an announcement from the health alexanderfrom senator from tennessee, senator murray from washington that beginning center for fourth, they will start holding bipartisan fixing the individual market. they are working on a very tight timeline. companies insurance have to submit their final insurance rates to on septemberv, and 27, they have to try to make the decision, are they in or out, selling on the marketplace, given that opened role and is starting in november. so you are looking at a very small window of actually doing something. with hearings such a rich way forth and the september 27 deadline looming in the future. i think the announcement of hearings is probably bringing some comfort to insurance companies who have been really nervous about this uncertainty. it gives them more confidence that help might be on the way, but, you know, they have some real-world decisions to make. they have to decide -- all of this is to say there is a very short timeline if you're going
to do things to make the market work better in 2018. they need to happen very quickly, and i think things are pretty clear. two talk things that are constantly at the top of insurance company lists. one is funding subsidies that help pay deductibles of copayments of low income obamacare enrollees. one of the things that surprised me was this is something a lot ever public and legislators in key leadership positions support. i believe representative brady with ways and means, lamar alexander on health -- they have all said they think we should appropriate the money. there was chatter about it getting done in the budget deal a few months ago, and it was left out, which surprised me and little bit that democrats did not go a little harder on that provision, but for whatever reason, it was not included, so that is a key one, and one where we have seen bipartisan support already, and another creating some sort of reinsurance fund
that would help offset the cost of really expensive patients. if you look at a state like iowa, for example, we know there is one patient who has over $1 million in medical bills each year, and for someone with hemophilia, which requires quite expensive drugs, it becomes a game of hot potato of who is going to end up with this really expensive patient. basically they will help out on the backend so you do not have to jack up premiums. the process has been very divided and very partisan, and i think it will lead to those demands getting met. >> i just want to add we have left out the sociopath in the room, and that is the president of the united states, who is intent on blowing everything up, intimidating insurance companies and punishing them or this failure, and taking subsidies away from congressional staff,
senate staff, to show them who is really boss. so where many of the things sarah is talking about could be done relatively easily and you could find pretty broad majorities for them, and i do not think you will find even the more radical members of the house who really want to see the whole thing blown up because most of them understand they will be blamed for it. they are in charge now. but when you have a president of this, thwarting all it becomes an additional challenge. this goes way beyond simply the problems of congress, and, of course, we should also add that if congress -- if congressional republicans have difficulty making policy, in a sane administration filled with people who care or know something about policy, you might be able to fill the vacuum a little bit more, but that is absent. >> ok, we have time for questions.
microphonesere are mysteriously coming around. excellent. great. you want to come here? >> i have been in and around capitol hill for 55 years. ,y question is institutional since i was part of the creation of the budget act in the mid-1970's. the effort then was to give strength to the congressional institution. nobody knew what the whole budget was about. it was to bring clarity of thought and activity. does this panel of experts believe that the institution of congress has been strengthened or weakened by the budget act?
and say theforward only part of the institution that looked like it had come into its own during this whole debate was the cbo. came from nowhere. the rest of it has been -- the keyword that i heard this morning was defensive. >> i think when you close your question by bringing up the cbo, i think as an institutional question, that absolutely is the right place to go. the cbo created this act to expertise, area of which is what some of the criticism has seemed so troubling. i think thinking more broadly about the question of the budget act, and you are correct that
what got us the budget act was executive overreach in the budget area. i think there are also its of things that are wrong with the budget process that we could make work better, but i'm not a person who thinks we should scrap an entirely and start over. i think the question is how we make it work with the current political incentives that members of congress face. something i spend a lot of time thinking about both in the context of reconciliation but also in the context of reconciliation more broadly is ourfact that in contemporary environment, and a lot of, the only things that really move our appropriations big-budgetther deals. if you are a member of congress and you have some fight that you want to get out in the open, that is where you go. sometimes i talk about congress
as a giant game of whack a mole. members have these goals they want to achieve, political and policy aims, and if you start whacking down some opportunities for them to achieve them, their goals are not going to go away. they are just going to pop act of the things that are moving, which now increasingly adjust budgetary matters and appropriation bills, so you end up having so many whites on those measures because we do not have places to have them anymore. for me, that is a real challenge that we have to confront, and how do we have a budget process that accommodates that political reality? >> i want to give a real shot at and props to alice hoagland, the first director of the congressional budget office. it's not much of an exaggeration to say that she was like the george washington who welllished the body for over 200 years we had a
presidency where everybody coming into the office had a certain set of expectations and veneration for it and all of that, up until recently. and what alice did was to create a culture of expertise and pride, and every congressional cbo that followed has continued that, and it is a jewel as a consequence. newt gingrich blew up the office of technology assessment so he could basically damage expertise and science and move more toward ideology, and now he has tried to do the same from the out with cbo, and it is at least to some credit of all of the members, including the leaders, that they have not let that happen. if cbo goes, god help us. >> hi, my name is stephen
hendrickson. first of all, i would like to commend your excellent coverage of these issues. i think it is really heartening to see how much people care about these issues. my question about procedure, my understanding is there can only be one set of reconciliation instructions in place at a time so that if congress does include tax reform instructions, that would supersede health care construction. the white house still wants to focus on health care. that they would have a kind of clean break where the reconciliation past would not be in place. is that true, or is there some other way i should be thinking about that trade-off? like expiration of reconciliation for 100? >> let the ticket crack at it. oncal year 2017 ends
september 30. it is an open question if those questions turn into a pumpkin or not. congress has never enacted a bill beyond the budget for which was created, but they have never tried. so that is out there. some people will tell you it expires. some people will tell you know. going to the second point, it is pretty clear that once congress adopts a budget, meaning house and senate agree on the same budget, that budget then supersedes the fiscal year 2017 budget, and the instructions vanish, and procedures are important because the instructions are what provide the procedure. i think you have heard the white director make this point
monday -- they can do a lot of bill and theax fiscal year 2018 budget up until that point, so you could have a budget reconciliation get through the house and the senate. you can have a tax bill written. and the instructions would still -- the 2017 instructions would still survive until that last moment. ofn there's the other sort possibility out there that one the 17epurpose instructions for tax reform. you hear people talk about that, limited by the pumpkin thing. potentially. that budgetact that does not call for tax cuts inside the window, so that would be tricky to do. the budget.end
that requires the house and senate to vote. it is hard for me to see why you would do that instead of just writing a fiscal year 2018. you hear people talk about doing a shell budget instead of a real budget, which would be like the one they did for fiscal year 2017 that many republicans in the house side in particular do not want to do because they do not want to adopt a budget that balances within the budget window. see also its cross pressures and all that. did i cover that? >> yes, you did a great job. i want to provide a few pieces of context to what richard just said. i think it is really helpful to remember that we are at what i might call a sort of reconciliation edge case here. all of these -- richard just
laid out a whole number of open questions, and these are open questions because we are trying to take the process in places that it has not really been before, so that is a source of uncertainty. for otherike us, people who follow this process pretty closely, and also for just average americans who are trying to understand what the possibilities are. for me, i often bring myself back to the idea that we're offering up edges about what we is possible here. the other thing i will say and this has come up a couple of response to different questions here is that we can sort of play fantasy wegressional procedure all want. topicoy this as an office of conversation but at the end of the day what matters is what policy-wise.do
saying she doesn't see a way forward from where we are on health reform. true, whether or not the procedures would let us keep going down that road after not.mber 30 or so talking about procedure is great. how wely, it's part of all make our living but at the realf the day, it's the policy challenges here and until republicans can come up with solve those, i think that that's kind of what we about, whatinking keeping the procedures in the background amounts to. it's also important to note that getting a 2018 budget very heavywill be a lift. the freedom caucus wants to forrn to sequester numbers defense and for discretionary domestic spending. the kind of budget that paul ryan might be able to get through the house with
alone is goings to have one hell of a time getting adequate votes in the and then if they do end conference rec silg things that tilts more in a clear direction, it's not at this votes will be there in the house. and any kind of budget pass is nothat they going to be one that's going to the old boehner model ofgetting a smaller number republicans joined with democrats because no democrat the support the kind of budget they'll puthat forward. somebody's in the way back. perfect. skinner, waschard mitch mcconnell playing 13-dimensional chess and trying to make it look like he was
a bill but really hoping the bill would fail and to avoid blame or was it a more straightforward toe where he really did want pass a.c.a. repeal in some form and failed for some pretty reasons? sarah: i think challenging to mcconnell'sitch head and what his goal was with this whole effort. ithink at the end of the day kind of order the options he saw preference. and his i think the first would have been to pass something, to get you kind of saw him sticking with it, pulling out the skinny repeal at the the process as the way forward which suggests to me tore was a sincere desire actually pass something through the senate to show not just the done, we gotething it done, too. so i think that was certainly there. that was achievable, the second best thing was wasing his caucus it
unachievable. my colleague, dylan scott, who at voxhealthcare with me talked to a lobbyist who called "show them a body" theory of healthcare. you need to take the vote, show them it's going to fail and demonstrate we did all we could youi think that's also what saw play out last week. they went through vote after after billted bill and we were up at 2:00 a.m. last c-span2ight watching and apparently c-span was overloaded, i knew some people it could not get on to watch but those of us who watched it, we watched the drama play out where it was the "show them the body" theory of healthcare where and you've seen a lot of remarks from leadership, something stunning for mitch mcconnell, even though true but he told reporters yesterday the problem isn't the democrats, the problem is getting the republicans. so i still believe from everything i've seen that the
something butss if not to pass something, then at least show the fact that they it.dn't do but i think one of the things i've learned from this whole have consistently underestimated the drive of the theblican party to repeal affordable care act. i thought back in march when the ryan declared affordable care act the law of the land after the first failed vote that we were going to move to something else and you would find other things to write completely was wrong. i think the drive in the rank and file is quite strong and can desires toadership's move on, to do different things. so we'll see if that comes back but i think throughout, the goal has been sincere, to actually pass something. add to that.t senator mcconnell is very careful about what he says almost always so if you go back to that march time period, his phrase at the time when it
passd like the house would the first bill. he said something like, when week.dispose of this next is not we'll pass it. it's really important. that they knewed the dead cat might land on their door step and they wouldn't be able to do anything about it. no one knew where the votes were on this more than he did. did he always say what he knew? no, of course not. back at look at his statements. there was really only maybe a where heo in july started saying things like, we're going to pass it. otherwise, it was we're going to to call it up.ng so his verbs matter and so i'll get intong that as we tax reform. >> thank you very much. follow up on something mr. ornstein suggested about the
advocacy groups. i hear you refer to the republican party gearing in after the house vote in march it seemed to me it wasn't rank and file. that was club for growth and haritage fund strong-arming their captains on the house side. -- perhapss that's that's wrong. disagree. of those groups on congress i'd like to you discuss. is somethingain i've never seen before where you're pushing to pass a bill by all widely rejected of the stakeholder groups, including ones you've been theed with in the past in health world, but also by a large share of your own voters
sort ofourse the bizarre thing of having senators back homemembers go and go into the effectively witness protection programs to keep away from their own constituents was really kind of weird. so you have to ask yourself, why do they keep pushing this? of it is, i think as sarah suggested, if you say over over again for seven years, this is the worst thing that we can imagine and you have one of your prominent presidential candidates, now a cabinet saying the affordable care act is the worst thing that's benry, carson. repeal-- if you vote to it, root and branch, 60 times, on you anda burden you feel that burden even if your constituents don't but the here is that the real pressure and push came from
money'd ideological interests, as you suggest, and pushing them media very hard and you cannot underestimate the level of intimidation that members feel if they are going to be singled attacked by lara ingram, rush limbaugh, sean hannity and others in the blog world and tribal media world more generally. of this as a lot does the money. >> i think one of the things that surprised in this process is how little republicans cared about healthcare interest groups. a pervasive group within the obama administration that if you were going to pass a healthcare bill, you need the american medical association pharmaon board. i think they took this from clinton care and harry and louise ads, if we don't get these players behind us, they'll sink us. one of the things that surprised
me is that republicans got very far with none of these groups them. i was also surprised how little groupshealthcare speaking out, the insurance industry. not real great under republican plans. ton hospitals which stand lose a lot of money put out strongly worded letters but it tvn't the scorched earth ads. we've seen big lobbying campaigns and it certainly wasn't that. so i'm curious if one lesson democrats take from this is of those theories they had about the other side of advocacyhe healthcare groups, whether those theories were wrong and one thing i'm very curious is if there's any democrats in back rooms somewhere thinking about how pass -- if they don't need those groups, if they can write off the insurance industry
write off pharma, if they're thinking to use reconciliation, single-pair system through reconciliation if we're willing to say we don't need your support on our side. as molly suggested, when you test the bounds of reconciliation and explore how far you can get with it, it gives other side some ideas do whenat they could they're in power. >> hi, i'm james -- jason. a journalist. you guys talked a lot about sort thehe closed-off process, gang of six in the tax reform bill and at the same time you closed-off process, you have a president who is saying a lot of things to the
media at times. interviewthere was an the washington published in politico where he reform in waysx that didn't fully align with what ryan and others have said. how does that interact in terms of you have this closed-off and a president who has talked openly at times? so, for me, the thing that i think about most often in the -- context of president and big intra party legislative fights republicans are having is the degree to which trump is not well suited those intraparty problems in a way that another be.ident might one in terms of the substance of makeolicy, being able to an affirmative case to members as to why they should or should
not do something and also in the context of his political standing. one thing we know from a fair sciencef political research is that when a president is more popular, he to memberslity to go you to doook, i want this and i can give you political cover for doing so because i have the political capital that comes with popularity. and we can talk about sort of trump's relative standing with republican voters versus not with republican voters and where he's more popular and where he's not more popular but to the a low that he has approval rating, he does not have the ability to say to you to take this thing for the team, and i'll be able to help you overcome the costs of doing so. so for me, those are the things that i think about in the of trump and these fights within his own party.
richard: to add to that, this is policywhere campaign plans matter, right. so if you look back at the bush in 2000, they were pretty clear about what they wanted with their first legislative priority was, tax bill. that planetails of would be so when they came into office, even with the delay from election, they were able to move pretty quickly and they had buy-in from a large segment of party on that plan. easier because hay had a surplus thate time but to advance and it was enacted by may. if you look at the affordable care act, there was a lot of work done by the obama campaign the white paper wastor baucus put out, it right after the election. the amount of work that had gone
on before the election in a between theay campaign of the incoming partyent and the majority and the congress of the same both was like intense on the bush tax and affordable care though then affordable care act took 14 months to get done from the worko, there was a ton of that had been done in advance and the distance president trump had from the party and the fact that many of them didn't think basicallyin has prevented that from happening this time around. molly's point, one of the things that became difficult in these negotiations, number ofar in a interviews that he gave that president trump had no grasp on what the policy concepts in the healthcare law, or healthcare bill, that republicans were remember and i think i covering the affordable care could see things happening with the white house
toing suggestions responsive members' concerns where a democrat could say i'm concerned about how this medicaid will affect my state and the white house thinks through things and offers them something and it's hard to see process happening here. there were two interviews where president trump estimated that insurance should cost, in one interview, $15 a month, in another interview, $12 a year. it is so far from the realm of numbers that anyone who has ever interacted with the health -- obamacare --iewed asking how much it was fair to $150 a month. they get that health insurance costs money. of acalaska -- acknowledgment matters. lisa murkowski saying i don't think you're .ngaged when you ask the question, could
another republican have gotten this done? if you had an executive and president that was actualengaged on the details on what was happening. norm: we had a president that rose garden ceremony high-5ing when the bill was passed and then saying it was mean. the senatorsone of would ask trump a substantive or question about health policy but they all winfield -- out.d >> thank you so much. my name is zack moore, former stafferudget committee and currently with the committee for a responsible federal budget. i'm wondering, when we talk tax reform and reconciliation, we're going to have a lot of bird rule problems. in addition to just the
long-term deficit issue, do you see any regulatory issues be votedform that will out and this was a big issue whether or not the house was to pass even be able bird issues.e thank you. you will say that that's the right thing -- a right thing to paying attention to. ofpart because of the level detail with which i have been following the healthcare fight, have been following the coming bit less in a little detail but what i would say generally is again, we should are thest at where policy disagreements and until as richard pointed out earlier, they figure out some of idea of whether these more ancillary questions
bird rule. what i will say about the bird importanti think is and hasn't come up yet is the moree to which it injected uncertainty into what was already an uncertain process around healthcare reform so it be interesting to see if something similar happens with taxes. it's sometimes hard to think back to even just last week and the time line of if i'mthat happened but remembering correctly, it was not until friday, the friday prior to the vote on the motion toproceed, that we started get publicly a sense from courtesy of the democrats on the senate budget committee, of what the parliamentarian was advising the bird rule. just dayss again, before we came up for the motion to proceed so the degree to already moving at a really fast pace and if they want to keep up to anything
close to what the white house yesterday about what they're looking at on a pace for tax reform, the degree to which there's uncertainty in the process more generally, like the important source of that uncertainty, in the reconciliation. >> richard: i think things like structure of the i.r.s. are unlikely to be not a- i'm parliamentarian -- are not likely to survive the bird situation. i think some republicans have conceded that, that that valid separate track because it's not primarily natureand budgetary in but in general i think there will be fewer issues because you the kind of regulatory regime trying to be changed in quite the same way. that said, i'll echo's molly's point. we don't know what the bill
looks like. if it ends up being more rates and baits, then, the precedents from 2001 to 2003, you can do that. when you start writing more don'tx policy, i just think it's been tested at all. reconciliation gets 20 hours of debate but we only get 90 minutes. so thank you so much to all the panelists and to all of you. are where are are are for your questions. [applause] >> c-span, for history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider.
>> newsmakers is next with democratic argument richard deal of massachusetts -- neal of massachusetts. that is full of accessibility that the headquarters. lineberry onate q&a. >> on newsmakers this week, rejoined by congress and richard neal of the house ways and means committee. this has congress turns its focus on tax reform. and to help with questions in studio, we have rachael bade a politico, richard rubin who tax policy reporter for the wall street journal. rachel the first question is , yours. rachael: i want to start out with the transition we are seeing right now on the hill to health care to tax reform.